Houston Astros Plan Analysis

It had been 10 years since the Houston Astros made the MLB playoffs.

For many years, fans were silent on social media around this time. However, this season was different. The Astros were in the playoffs.

Houston battled the Texas Rangers and the Anaheim Angels for the AL West divisional crown. Fans were excited that the Astros secured a Wildcard spot.  With so much success, I decided to search the official Astros social media.

The Astros followed many of Coursaris analytical categories.  So, I decided to reverse-engineer the Astros social media accounts in order to understand the organization’s reach on social media.

I chose the week of September 27th -October 4th to collect my data. During this week, the Astros were 82-74 and 2 ½ games out of first place. I began by using Storify to gather all social media content from the Astros’ Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  I also made a calendar of everything they posted and color-coded my findings.

The calendar was broken down into 6 color-coded categories. Red was for written content. Blue  was for promotional items. Yellow was for outside curation. Purple was for live action posts.  Silver was for fan interaction and Green was for multimedia content. Here is what I found after spending a week with the Astros on social media. plan analysis calendar

The Plan: Sunday

On October 27th, the Astros held Season Ticket Holder Photo day. The Astros heavily used Instagram to post photos of the event. The team’s goal was to show appreciation to their fans and create fan engagement.  The Astros uploaded four posts that was intended to  build consumer connections with the Astros brand.

At 11:42 am, the Astros used the hashtag “#HTownPride” across their platforms. This was very successful as they got many likes and shares on Instagram and Twitter. For example, 60 people on Twitter favorited  a photo of Carlos Correa taking a “selfie” with fans. 

As the day went on, the Astros continued to build consumer connections.  At 9:39pm the Astros posted a “Thank You Fans” post on Instagram. The post got 7,143 likes on Instagram nearly five hours after the game was completed.

The strategy was successful. The Astros goal was to honor their fans at the last regular season home game and promote a send-off for fans.

Also, the Astros wanted to build brand awareness by collaborating with sponsors like Dunkin Doughnuts. They used promotional items by offering free coffee to fans. The strategy was to build relationships with sponsors and  reward fans for supporting the team. The repost got 12 retweets and 18 favorites.  

Finally, the Astros created more engagement by getting season ticket holders to invest in the season ticket package next season. In doing so, the Astros completed their goals for Sunday. 

The Plan: Monday and Tuesday

The Astros used a new trend early in the week. The team decided to promote its most important events happening that week on Monday and Tuesday. They did this early in the morning as fans were just checking their social media accounts. The goal was to get the information out for the upcoming weekend and have it fresh in a fan’s mind.

The event for this week was Badges and Bases on Saturday. The Astros strategy was to send out a PSA each day on the event.

Across the three social platforms, the Badges and Bases event was visible multiple times. At 2:00pm, the event flyer was posted on Facebook.  It got 233 likes, 18 comments and 30 shares. A couple minutes later, Instagram saw the post get 3073 likes.

badges and baseball

Another trend was that the Astros created a fan interaction during lunchtime.

On Tuesday at 12:00 noon, the Astros created the hashtag “#AstrosTriviaTuesday.”  The strategy was to get fan engagement during fans “free time” in the day. The Astros figured the most people would be on a lunch break at noon.

The Astros had two major goals with this “#AstrosTriviaTuesday” campaign. The first goal was to provide a promotional incentive by offering a chance at an award. The award happened to be a Dallas Keuchel t-shirt.  The other goal was to create more fan engagement.

At noon, people flooded Twitter trying to win the free t-shirt.  22 people favorited the actual post and 9 people retweeted it.  However, a big impact came from the hashtag. The #AstrosTriviaTuesday was trending on Twitter for the hour. Nearly 100 people interacted with the team. It wasn’t overly engaging but the Astros accomplished the goal of openly interacting with their fans.

The reason was to increase their brand management. People engaged with the brand and the team got more viewership. It led to them the organization  promoting Badges and Bases, playoff packages and season tickets for next year. This was done because they had fans attention.

The Plan: Wednesday-Sunday night

The Astros always tweet live games and posts written game recaps. Each day, the team always had a link to videos on Facebook and reactions on Twitter.

The Astros went heavy on game content these days. The team was in playoff contention and every post was gearing up for a potential return. The Astros would send out about 75 live tweets per game and about five posts after the game. These five posts included outside curation and game recap videos.

The Astros strategy was to reach out to diehard fans and sponsors. By showing the game content, the Astros wanted to increase engagement with the diehard fan demographic.

At 3:19pm on Wednesday, the team sent out an Instagram photo on pitcher Dallas Keuchel. The goal was to show advanced statistics that engaged with diehard fans.  The post used the hashtag “#CyKeuchel” to further promote him for the MLB’s top pitching prize. This post saw 6,694 likes on Instagram and had 45 comments from fans.

keuchel image

The Astros gave shortstop Carlos Correa the same treatment on Saturday. They gave Correa an infographic and his stas as well. This reached 5901 likes by diehard fans on Instagram. The post also earned 65 comments.

correa

The strategy on these two specific days was to push Astros two best players. It served a goal of engagement and product awareness.  The Astros wanted fans to know who to look out for in the playoffs. This directly relates to the categories of Coursaris as the Astros promoted their name brand stars.

A final strategy the Astros used was the “gotta believe” campaign on Saturday afternoon. The concept behind the strategy was built out of a retweet of a diehard fan. The Astros retweeted the fan to show their support of the team. It got them behind the movement and the Astros wanted to share it with other fans.The tweet went viral 116 times and 175 favorites.

The reason behind the organization’s postion was to focus on the playoff push. The Astros focused on the stars, they could increase the team’s reach.  The Astros wanted to get fans ready for the playoffs. It’s the reason why they showed more playoff content and player created activity.

Final Analysis

After reverse-engineering, the Houston Astros had unique plans for their social media. Many trends were geared towards fan engagement. The Astros didn’t shy away from brand management. They made sure to always have the #Astros name available in every post and response. Houston wanted to let everyone who interacted with them on social media know that they were a serious organization. The Astros wanted to hear from fans and have them involved in everything going on at the ballpark.

The goal of daily engagement worked well with the fans.  It got different demographics involved with the team. Season-ticket holders were recognized and diehards as well. The Astros could improve by focusing more on specific behind-the-scenes access.They could post more videos of locker room interviews and team events to give fans a intimate connection with the organization.

One recommendation is to make every post more visible on other each social media networks. Sometimes, posts would be for Twitter and it didn’t reach people on other platforms. It would be easier to have everything visible simultaneously 

Otherwise, the Astros did a great job in posting content on their social media websites.

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